What makes employees go above and beyond?

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If there’s one thing that employers and business leaders have in common, it’s the desire for their employees to go the extra mile for the company. Yet to foster this attitude amongst your staff, you really need to understand what inspires them to go above and beyond in the first place.

A good place to start is by focusing on employee experience. We recently conducted research in this area, which revealed some interesting correlations between the reasons why people go above and beyond and different elements of the employee experience. For instance, our data found that workplace relationships, reward and recognition, career development, training and technology are all key factors in how often employees will go above and beyond for customers and their employer. This shows a clear link between engagement and experience.

We also found that those employees who rated their overall employee experience as ‘good’ were far more likely to go above and beyond, than those who rated it as ‘bad’. 

Ultimately, employee experience is the only thing that really inspires people to go above and beyond, says Kevin Gaskell, leadership and growth expert. “The culture of the business is what employees experience because they are part of it. People should feel inspired by what they are doing and how they are making a difference. Achieving success in the role by making a positive difference provides positive feedback. That’s what inspires people.”

According to Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of 10Eighty, good leaders nurture a culture and environment where talent can flourish and fulfil their potential. “A culture of teamwork, collaboration and cooperation makes employees feel proud to be working for their organisation and willing to advocate as ambassadors for it; recognition and feedback incentivise effective contribution and engagement.”

Our research revealed that reward and incentive was the most compelling reason for employees to go above and beyond more often, while a fifth of respondents said they would be more likely to go above and beyond if they had a better relationship with their manager.

Funke Sadare, HR director at Global University Systems, believes that fostering positive working relationships starts with employee involvement. “When employees are given the opportunity to share their views on matters relating to their work, they feel empowered and valued. This also helps organisations to build good working relationships. Employee involvement increases job satisfaction and ultimately creates an inclusive working environment.”

Our data also suggested a strong link between HR technology and employee experience, as employees who reported using more technology for HR processes such as expense management and time tracking were also more likely to report that their employee experience was good. Plus, employees who said that technology is important to the employee experience were also more likely to go above and beyond.

“Access to the relevant digital tools can empower employees to perform their role better and find smarter ways of working, which will increase productivity,” remarks Funke Sadare.

Our research also found differences between age groups. For instance, employees aged 16-24 were more likely to go above and beyond than those aged over 55. Plus, for almost all the age groups (everyone over 25 years old) the top reason they would go above and beyond more often was increased reward and incentive. However, younger employees aged between 16 and 24 stated they would go above and beyond more often for development and career progression opportunities.

This illustrates how important it is to have an understanding of the expectations and needs of the different demographics within your workforce, to ensure they continue to go the extra mile.

“Good management and robust HR processes play a huge role in understanding employee needs,” comments Funke Sadare. “The different employee demographics should also be given a voice through various channels such as surveys, employee committees, focus groups, team meetings, suggestion boards and so on. These will provide employers with insight on their motivational needs, so that solutions can be tailored accordingly.”

So, employers must strive to foster a positive employee experience that drives high performance and engagement and motivates people to excel in their role.

“The key to inspiring a team to do their best work is to make sure they know exactly how they make a positive difference to the development of the organisation and the achievement of worthwhile goals,” advises Kevin Gaskell.

Employers can encourage their employees to go the extra mile by creating an inclusive workplace culture and fostering good working relationships, adds Funke Sadare. “Employers should also create career opportunities and people development frameworks to enhance the employee’s career development. A positive work-life balance also serves as a motivating factor for employees to give more discretionary effort and make valuable contributions.”


To understand more about how employee experience can impact your business, download our report here.